A seriously evil SUV The concept of monstrous, performance-oriented SUVs eludes me, but those that have them seem to adore them.
SRT. Three letters that make any car guy or muscle car junkie’s ears perk right up. I have been fortunate enough to own a car with the ‘lesser’ R/T badge on it, so I’ve had some experience with the tire-squealing, the roaring sounds, and the scary rate at which fuel is consumed. Nothing could have prepared me for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT though; it’s just a beast on another level. When Chrysler Canada offered me a week with the thing, I made some preliminary predictions. One was that I was going to have to declare bankruptcy because of the fuel mileage, and another was that I was going to get plenty of waves and nods from fellow American muscle drivers.
My week with the SRT Jeep started with some highway commuting, which gave me a chance to get to know the truck better. Firstly, the 470-horsepower from the 6.4L Hemi V8 is insane. Even though it does have 4-wheel-drive, the Jeep can send 70% of its power to the rear wheels. From a rolling start, the truck feels blisteringly quick. Flooring it is absolutely ridiculous; you can really feel the 465 lb-ft of torque working with the 8-speed automatic transmission to get you moving quickly. It sounds great too; the exhaust is monstrous and instantly makes bystanders crane their necks to find out what in tarnation is making that sound. I must admit though that the previous-generation Grand Cherokee SRT8 (note the lack of the numeric designation in the new one’s name) sounded a bit more beastly.
There’s a button on the dash of the Grand Cherokee SRT that says “Eco”. It’s almost as if the Jeep is taunting you when you put it. I don’t understand why anybody who would buy this truck would even bother with it… you know what you’re getting into when signing the papers on one. It’s absolutely brilliant for what it is; loud, obnoxious, vicious. It’s just not economical. I light-footed it on the highway in “Eco” mode and the best I could do was 14.6L/100km. When driving around normally to spiritedly in a combined situation, the typical pattern of an SRT owner, I averaged 17.8L/100km. These numbers aren’t unrealistic; I did some research online and found people getting averages of well over 20L/100km. Let’s keep in mind that my numbers for the all-new Range Rover Supercharged were only marginally better than those I achieved in the Jeep. The 6.4L demands premium fuel too, and the fuel tank capacity of just under 100L makes for particularly painful fillups.
One thing I was particularly impressed with on the SRT Jeep was the interior. Short of “ze Germans”, the steering wheel with its flattened bottom is among my favourites in the industry. It’s a bit stiff at low speeds but overall great. It has the typical Chrysler family 8.4” touch-screen with the navigation system. It’s user-friendly and quick, but what makes this system particularly interesting is the addition of some SRT-specific toys that share a screen with the digital speedometer. This gives you the opportunity to test things like braking distance, acceleration time, quarter-mile times, etcetera. It’s a pretty awesome setup, however gimmicky it may be.
The concept of monstrous, performance-oriented SUVs eludes me, but those that have them seem to adore them. A cousin of mine has a BMW X5M and he swears by it. The Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG starts at just over $100,000, and the X5M isn’t very far behind it. I personally believe it’s blasphemous to want 470-horsepower out of a performance SUV and look for value, but if that’s what you’re looking for, the Grand Cherokee SRT is essentially unbeatable. That is, of course, provided you’re willing to sacrifice a bit of the refinement that the Germans offer as standard equipment. At a base price of just under $63,000, the SRT Jeep gives you a ton of standard features. Remote start, a backup camera, heated/ventilated seats, and a lovely combination of leather and suede are all standard. My car was equipped with a few extra toys like a panoramic sunroof, Adaptive Cruise Control, a tow group, and 20” wheels. The as-tested price was still shy of $75,000. Not too shabby.
I’ve always liked the Grand Cherokee. I adored the Overland with the 5.7L that we tested earlier this year, and this one really grew on me. It’s gorgeous to look at; the LED lighting complements the muscular body very nicely. Its launch control, the selectable drive modes (my personal favourite is obviously the “Track” mode), and the Harman Kardon 825-watt stereo all came together to make for one seriously cool SUV. I wish it didn’t completely empty my wallet, but then again, that’s like wishing for a Prius to do a quarter-mile in ten seconds. There’s a very specific market for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, and for that market, it’s one genuinely special truck. I will miss it.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Gallery